For two straight seasons the eventual World Champions have danced on the turf at Yankee Stadium in October. Strong comebacks by Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez could prevent that from happening again.
Worth Every Penny
Say what you will about Alex Rodriguez having an off year, but 99 percent of the players in baseball would kill to slump like A-Rod did last year. A 30 home run, 30 steals, .300 threat every season, A-Rod is one of the five best players in the fantasy world, and 2005 won't be any different. If anything, he feels like he let the storied franchise down and has a lot to prove in his second season in the Bronx.
About to Blossom
The acquisition of Randy Johnson obscured the impact that the Yankees made when they signed right-hander Carl Pavano, who had a breakout season for Florida in 2004. He's 29 years old and is about to enter the prime of his career. And with Johnson, Mike Mussina, and Jaret Wright sharing the load, there won't be undue pressure on Pavano as he faces third and fourth starters for most of the year. Don't be surprised to see him lead the team in wins.
While he's still one of the top offensive catchers in the majors, the workload Jorge Posada has endured over the last decade started to catch up to him last season. His average and power numbers took a major slide after a hot start. That said, he's still worth drafting, but not nearly as high as you would have a season or two ago.
Do You Feel Lucky?
Everyone's written off Giambi and Bernie Williams as washed up damaged goods. They will probably be lower priced this season than they've been in ages, and it's not inconceivable that they can be healthy and produce at 2002 levels. This is a lineup that will score lots of runs. The only question is whether Giambi and Williams will play enough to be involved in the scoring of those runs. Don't go overboard for them, but there are a lot riskier selections.
Tony Womack is going to be this year's Kenny Lofton, with one big exception: Womack's going to play. Batting ninth, he'll be on base when Derek Jeter and Rodriguez are at the plate, so not only will they take pitches for him, Womack also provides Joe Torre with a perfect combination for hit-and-run plays. All three of them will run, as will Gary Sheffield (18 SBs in 2003), if his body feels good enough.
If Something Should Happen To Mariano Rivera
The backup closer job is clearly Tom Gordon's. One of a select few active pitchers with 100 wins and 100 saves, Gordon's curveball is still among the great pitches in the game. His velocity has been good this spring, alleviating any concerns about his health after he pitched 89 1/3 innings last season.
Don't Forget About
Hideki Matsui, Wright, Tino Martinez, Felix Rodriguez
Don't Bother With
Paul Quantrill, Ruben Sierra, Kevin Brown, Mike Stanton
David Sabino is the associate editor in charge of statistics at Sports Illustrated and the author of the book, Dominate Your Fantasy Baseball League (Muska & Lipman/Premier-Trade).